Expert: ASEAN maintains balance between the US-China confrontation

Expert: ASEAN maintains balance between the US-China confrontation 2

`ASEAN has attempted to maintain a careful balance in its relations with the US and China, and the Association has succeeded,` said Dr. Collin Koh Swee Lean, expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore

Collin said the way ASEAN handles challenges, including US-China competition, is `exactly what needs to be done`.

Flags of ASEAN and some member countries.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said at the press conference concluding AMM 53 on September 12 that representatives of ASEAN countries and partners discussed strategic competition between major countries in inter-regional conferences.

As competition between the US and China has recently become fierce in many fields, causing small and medium-sized countries to face pressure to `choose sides`, ASEAN ministers have affirmed their determination to maintain Southeast Asia.

`The declaration demonstrates the central role of ASEAN and the Association does not want to be trapped in competition between countries, affecting peace and stability of the region,` Mr. Minh said, affirming that Southeast Asia is a region

Lucio Blanco Pitlo, an expert at the Institute for Development Studies in Asia-Pacific, Philippines, also said that the Association continues to avoid choosing sides, affirming its central role in a volatile regional environment.

`ASEAN continues to expand its partnerships, welcoming initiatives that benefit the region,` Lucio said.

The association has agreed to add 4 partners including France, Italy, Columbia and Cuba.

In a press conference on September 12, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh stated that ASEAN is an open community, always welcoming initiatives from partners, if the initiatives contribute to common development,

When the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the progress of negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), Lucio said that ASEAN raised practical measures and built trust to help reduce tensions.

`ASEAN continues to express concern about unnecessary incidents in the East Sea, about the risk of miscalculation, especially when US-China competition is increasing,` Lucio said.

During meetings within the framework of AMM, ASEAN ministers affirmed the need to continue promoting dialogue and strengthening trust building, refraining from activities that increase tension and complicate the situation, not militarily.

According to Dr. Collin, the stagnation in COC negotiations is one of the issues that Vietnam, as ASEAN Chairman, can hardly promote due to the objective reason of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Philippine expert Lucio commented that Vietnam takes on the ASEAN Chairmanship at the right time, challenging Hanoi in particular and the Association in general.

Despite these difficulties, Lucio believes that Vietnam has done a good job of leading the discussion, leading to ASEAN consensus to handle the above challenges.

`Notably, in the East Sea issue, Vietnam has balanced its interests, as a party to the dispute, with the role of Chairman to create consensus among ASEAN members,` Lucio said.

Derek Grossman, an expert at the Rand Organization, USA, also said that ASEAN, during the year Vietnam was Chairman, demonstrated the ability to handle the pandemic `admirably`, maintaining discussions on important issues.

According to Collin, due to the impact of Covid-19, Vietnam is limited in its ability to fully perform the role of Chairman.

`However, Vietnam still promotes the Association’s issues in a commendable way,` Collin said.


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